Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first collaboration, and its history has been one of evolution, an evolution that continues in the current national revival tour of the show.
The new production shows its evolution in the technical aspects of production, especially its sound system: self-powered loudspeakers from Meyer Sound and, at the FOH position, an LCS Matrix3 audio show control system with a CueConsole control surface. The system was specified by Duncan Robert Edwards, the show's sound designer, and supplied by Specialized Audio-Video Inc. of Clifton Park, NY, with logistical coordination by Mark Norfolk and Mike Weirich.
Edwards chose the Matrix3, which has rarely toured with a short-run production, because he believed the time had come to bring high-end modular digital technology to the upper crust of the bus-and-truck circuit. "LCS Audio CueConsoles have been used as FOH systems on Broadway and in Las Vegas for some time," says Edwards, a principal of Audio Design International in New York. "As for touring, several Cirque du Soleil tours have them, but their shows are always in the same tent and usually stay for a month or more. As far as I know, this may be the first time that an all-LCS system has toured 30-plus venues with runs of only a few days up to a couple weeks at the most."
According to Edwards, his selection of the Meyer Sound/LCS Audio combination was a result of his ongoing consulting role with Troika Entertainment, the tour management company for the production. "My idea for the Troika touring model was to design standardized systems that were modular and scalable," Edwards explains. "These could be easily reconfigured for different shows, touring itineraries, crew sizes, and venues. The Matrix3 system is fabulous for that, because you can define exactly what you need as far as inputs, outputs and console facilities. The Meyer Sound CQ line fits nicely as well, because you simply add or subtract boxes depending on the needs of the tour."
The Joseph loudspeaker configuration has twin front towers each with (top to bottom) three CQ-2 narrow coverage main loudspeakers, one CQ-1 wide coverage cabinet, a UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeaker, and a USW-1P compact subwoofer.
"The CQs work very well for this scalable theme," Edwards notes. "I love the way they sound, and, in my opinion, they are better suited than line arrays for this application. The system is very cost-effective. Only four CQs and one UPJ-1P per side provide the required horizontal and vertical coverage for nearly all theatre-sized venues. Also, I can be completely independent of the house sound system, although in nearly all cases we supplement our rig with the house cluster and delay systems."
Production sound mixer Cameron Grant was initially skeptical about this highly computerized approach to theatre sound, but he has become an enthusiastic convert. "I wasn't thrilled about it at the beginning," he confesses. "It was so different from anything I had worked on before. But now I'm a disciple. This is the future." Grant says his attitude changed as he grasped the programmability and flexibility of the Matrix3 approach.
Since Matrix3 is, by its very nature, a fully networked system, all of its functions can be accessed through a Wi-Fi-linked laptop computer. Edwards finds this "do anything anywhere" capability enormously helpful during pre-production rehearsals. "I could sit down front with the director and run through sound effects cues in the odd moments when he was waiting for something else to happen. The way I had programmed the show, I could go to any point in the show at any time, and all my cues would be up to date. It's extremely efficient."
Out on the road, Grant enjoys the same flexibility as he finetunes the system for each new venue. "You have the whole sound board in your hand. Anything you can do at FOH, you can do on your laptop. You can go down to the expensive seats, down front and center, and get the vocals and the band all clean and rich. Or I can go up to the balcony and do it from there. If I could get sound in my hotel room, I could mix from there!"
Edwards was primarily responsible for configuring the Matrix3 package, programming the cues, and integrating mixing and processing with the Meyer Sound system. The Matrix3 handles processing for the 112 inputs and 40-plus outputs, supplemented only by a TC Electronic R6000 reverb and a Waves Maxx BCL for bass enhancement. "I love the simplicity and efficiency of RF and band microphones feeding the Matrix3 inputs, and then the Matrix3 outputs feeding the self-powered speakers with virtually nothing in between," remarks Edwards. "And I'm delighted with the sound of the rig."
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat stars Patrick Cassidy in the title role and Amy Adams as the narrator. The tour is currently scheduled for stops in 31 cities, concluding on July 30 at the Orpheum Theatre in Omaha, NE.